‘I know our fight isn’t over yet’: Mother pushing for legislation for people exposed to contaminated water

“I know our fight isn’t over yet”: Mother pushing for legislation for people exposed to contaminated water
Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 10:49 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2023 at 10:52 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Beth Markesino lost her baby when she was 24 weeks pregnant back in 2016. She blames the PFAS chemicals in our drinking water at the time.

“His life was cut short. And I really want to honor him and the life that he could have had,” Markesino said.

Now, she’s trying to get Samuel’s Law passed. The legislation would protect people exposed to contaminated water with medical monitoring.

“If we had a medical monitoring law, we could hold Chemours or any polluter that discharges chemicals that cause health effects, we can hold them accountable,” Markesino said. “And also find out if anybody is sick or down the road, people who have been exposed to PFAS, what their long-term effects could be. You know, you might not have cancer today, but if you drink that water for an extended amount of time, there’s a possibility that you could have felt the health effects associated with these chemicals. And with Samuel’s Law, we will help monitor and see if you do have those health effects that come from being contaminated with chemicals like PFAS.”

Markesino has been reaching out to lawmakers across the state, and anyone else that she can get for support.

“From the emails I’ve gotten back, it seems like we’re going to have a lot of support to push this through. And it’s bipartisan support. They know about the issue, and it’s on their agenda. PFAS is on the agenda for 2023. So, now that I’m emailing them about Samuel’s Law and what it entails, and how it’s affected our community, they’re like, ‘yes, this is an issue that we support,’” Markesino said. “It’s only a matter of time before our state pushes a law like this. And I believe that they should do that now. I mean, we have already seen Vermont, Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and West Virginia. That’s a pretty long list of states that have a medical monitoring law. So, North Carolina really needs to get proactive and enact legislation for PFAS.”

Senators Michael Lee and Graig Meyer are among those who have responded.

“This is legislation, that is really about taking care of the people whose lives are damaged when we pollute our water, which we all need access to clean water. And, you know, when we fail to protect people, then we should have a responsibility to make it right,” Senator Meyer said. “If it’s gonna get done this year, it can get done in the first six months of this year. But some bills take a long time to work their way into actually becoming law. And so you might introduce it this year, [it] might take a while to actually get it to the point where it passes because you have to get people used to the idea and find more allies for it. Much of that depends on who’s behind it.”

Senator Meyer also told Markesino that he would help her gain support for the bill.

“I always appreciate it when someone advocates from their own personal experience, because there are lots of great professional advocates that we hear from on all sides of all issues. And they all have valid points. But when there’s an individual person that says, ‘hey, this is my story, and this is my child, and this is what I think you could do about it,’ it just sinks through a little bit more. And so that’s why I wanted to respond to [Beth] even though I don’t represent her. But to say, you know, at the very least I think I can help you consider how to advance what you’re what you’re trying to do,” Meyer said. “And so I told her like, I think you have to work with the people that are in the majority party first. But I’m happy to help you strategize and to try to build support for, for what it is.”

Markesino says no matter how long it takes, she will keep fighting to protect our community.

“I just want to make sure that nobody goes through the loss that our family has because that’s why I’m an advocate is all for my son.”